We all know that many times there is a “race” to see which court will have jurisdiction over a particular family law matter – the Rabbinic courts or the Family courts.
We all also know that people are told to file in either court first if they want to get jurisdiction there. But the question remains – do you need to just file – or do you need to actually have performed service as well?
In any examination is made regarding whether or not just filing in the Rabbinic court gives it jurisdiction over any given matter, the court will look at the reasons for the suit not being served.
For example, in a case in front of Judge Roth-Levy in the TA District Court (M”A 1660/94) , the husband filed a suit including divorce alimony issues in the Rabbinic court, but only served the wife three months later. In the interim the wife sued the husband for alimony in the family court. The judge comes to the conclusion that the husband didn’t really have intent to file for divorce but was essentially just holding the filed suit in hand in case the wife filed in the family court.
Therefore, the judge rules that by merely filing the case, you have not awarded jurisdiction to the Rabbinic court.
This ruling is in line with other rulings in international cases which say that the mere filing of a suit does not automatically grant jurisdiction to that court if service has not been completed. There have been cases where suits were filed in the U.S. but ultimately Israel had jurisdiction over at least part of this issues when service wasn’t completed prior to the Israeli sits being filed and served.
To get more information regarding jurisdiction in Israel, call an Israeli lawyer to arrange for a consultation.